Friday, September 3, 2021

Gregory the Great: Servant of the Servants of God

Today is the feast of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, the 6th century Benedictine monk who articulated the path to holiness in a compelling and enduring manner, even as he served the Church in Rome and in the world, calling himself the "Servant of the Servants of God."

Here are some of his wise and evangelical words, that remain pertinent today:

"Our Lord and Redeemer entered the world and gave the world new teachings. He offered the contrast of his new way of life to our old one, which was nurtured by our vices. What did our old and carnal nature know how to do except to hang onto its own belongings, to seize if it could what belonged to someone else, and to covet what it could not seize? Our Physician brought from heaven remedies for every single moral fault. The medical art cures fevers with cold compresses, and chills by applying heat. Similarly, Jesus prescribed qualities contrary to our sins: self-restraint to the undisciplined, generosity to the stingy, gentleness to the irritable, and humility to the proud. Let us listen to Christ's words: 'Those who would come after me must renounce themselves.' He tells us that we must renounce ourselves. Some may not find it difficult to abandon their possessions, but it is extremely difficult for us to abandon ourselves. Renouncing what we have is not so much; renouncing what we are amounts to a great deal.

"...Christ said: Those who would come after me must renounce themselves. We cannot go beyond ourselves if we do not know how to sacrifice ourselves. We transplant seedlings to help them grow, and so we can say that we uproot them in order to make them increase. Seeds disappear when we put them in the earth, and then spring up to renew their kind; it seems as if what they were is being lost, but that is how they receive the ability to become what they were not."